Rehab and Recovery: The Vital Role of Speech Therapy After a Stroke

Senior completing speech therapy exercises

May is National Stroke Awareness Month and an ideal time to learn more about strokes, and how they can be recognized quickly and treated through medical intervention and rehabilitation.   

During National Stroke Awareness Month, the National Stroke Association® places special emphasis on making the public aware of Acting FAST, explaining that a person experiencing a stroke can be treated if others act “FAST.”

FAST is an acronym for specific symptoms to look for if you suspect someone is having a stroke, including:

– Face – Does the face droop on one side when the person smiles?

– Arm – After raising both arms, does one of the arms drift downwards?

– Speech – After repeating a simple phrase, does the person’s speech sound slurred or strange?

– Time – If any or all of the above are observed, call for 9-1-1 and ask for medical assistance.

The Stroke Association informs us that 80 percent of strokes are preventable, and while certain risk factors – including heredity, age and race – can't be changed, several other risk factors such as high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, poor diet and inactivity canbe changed, treated or controlled.

Post-Stroke Speech Problems and the Importance of Short-Term Speech Therapy

One of the more common effects of stoke is difficulty with speech and other communication problems resulting from damage to the brain.  For example, a stroke can affect your ability to speak, to find the right words and to understand language, both verbal and written. The medical description for this condition is called aphasia.

Says Susan Irrgang, RN, NHA, MBA, Executive Director at Saunders House, “After having initial treatment for a stroke in the hospital, short-term rehabilitation centers such as our RenewALL Short-Term Rehabilitation program, have become the treatment location of choice for stroke patients’ rehabilitation and recovery. Short-term rehabilitation centers offer a more comfortable, home-like environment at a significantly lower cost than the hospital setting.

“Here, our highly-trained speech therapists have helped hundreds of stroke patients to regain their ability to communicate and return to home, health and their normal routine.”

How Speech Therapy Can Help After a Stroke 

According to the American Stroke Association®, speech and swallowing problems are quite common after a stroke. For example, it’s estimated that around a third of people will have some level of communication difficulties after a stroke and at least 40 percent of stroke survivors will experience some trouble swallowing.

However, by working with certified speech therapists, such as those at Saunders House, individuals recovering from a stroke can benefit from therapists’ expertise in conducting formal functional assessments and creating customized treatment plans that address:

• Speaking, including speaking any words or saying the correct word (called expressive aphasia)

• Swallowing, including problems with coughing or choking when eating or drinking

• Understanding language (called receptive aphasia)

• Forming words and speech sounds due to weak muscles in your mouth (dysarthria)

• Moving the muscles needed for speech in the correct order and sequence (dyspraxia)

• Reading (dyslexia) or writing (dysgraphia)

Susan adds, “Researchers have found that stroke survivors who have had difficulty speaking or understanding speech show significant improvement in their language and communication skills after receiving intensive short-term speech therapy, such as we provide at our RenewALL Short-Term Rehabilitation program.

“Led by a medical director and a rehabilitation team that includes speech therapists and other licensed professionals, our RenewALL program balances medical management, physical rehabilitation and individualized care to treat a variety of health needs – from stroke and cardiopulmonary disease to joint replacement and post-hospital recovery.

“And the best news is that with patience, persistence and the expertise of a professional speech therapist, most people who have had a stroke are able to regain much if not all of their lost speaking ability!" 

We encourage you to contact us with any questions you might have, as well as to stay current on a variety of other senior health and care topics by viewing the latest articles on our website. 

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, “Rehab and Recovery: The Vital Role of Speech Therapy After a Stroke,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue. 

Today, Saunders House offers a range of services – including short-term rehabilitationtraditional nursing carerestorative carememory carerespite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Saunders House, our Short-Term Rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 610.658.5100 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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